Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Strangers from Earth, Poul Anderson (1961)
From the back cover: “A SENTIENT ROBOT
THE COLONISTS WHO LEFT A PERFECT WORLD
A MADDENING HUNT FOR A MARTIAN
A MAN-MADE ANIMAL
A GALACTIC SWINDLER
These are some of the ingredients Poul Anderson chooses to mix and blend into this first-class collection of stories: and his ability is as wide as the range of his interests.”
Contents: “Earthman, Beware!” (1951), “Quixote and the Windmill” (1950), “Gypsy” (1950), “For the Duration” (1957), “Duel on Syrtis” (1951), “The Star Beast” (1950), “The Disintegrating Sky” (1953), “Among Thieves” (1957)
Initial Thoughts: I’ve written extensively about my evolving views of Poul Anderson extensively on my site. I’d check out my review of Tau Zero (1970) for my most succinct (and relatively recent) assessment of his work. Including Tau Zero, I’ve reviewed eleven of his novels and twenty five short stories.
2. To The Resurrection Station, Eleanor Arnason (1986)
From the back cover: “It began like any other day…
Until Belinda Smith was abruptly snatched from the comforting surroundings of university life by her mysterious guardian and imprisoned in the solitary confines of Gorwing Keep. Suddenly, she was the reluctant heiress to her planet’s largest fortune–and the unwilling bride-to-be of an alien prince.
But fate had still more surprises in store for the young woman. And soon Belinda, her unwanted fiancé, and a battered old robot would find themselves fleeing across the galaxy in search of a new life. Their destination: a real-life fountain of youth, found in only one spot in the entire universe.
The fabled planet Earth….
and its legendary resurrection station.”
Initial Thoughts: I recently reviewed and thoroughly enjoyed Eleanor Arnason’s first three published short stories. Unfortunately, she wrote little more SF in the 1970s–and no SF novels until the mid-80s.
3. New Maps of Hell, Kingsley Amis (1960)
From the inside flap: “NEW MAPS OF HELL is a critical analysis of Science Fiction by a well-known writer. This book is based on a series of lectures delivered at Princeton University. The humor, acute analysis, and wisdom in his book are already having an effect on the popularity of Science Fiction.
Ingenuity, inventiveness, and imagination are the qualities that aficionados of this literary form have long admired. Kingsley Amis crystallizes their interest–citing the best examples. With this guide book the new reader can easily avoid the space opera, the worn-out minor themes, and enjoy directly the best in what is now acknowledged to be an exciting literary form.”
Initial Thoughts: In the past two years or so I’ve amped up my consumption of science fiction scholarship. According to SF Encyclopedia, Kingsley Amis’ New Maps of Hell (1960) “was certainly the most publicly influential critical work on sf up to that time, although not the most scholarly. It strongly emphasized the Satire and Dystopia elements of sf, and introduced the term Comic Inferno. Amis, himself a satirist and debunker of note, saw sf as an ideal medium for satirical and sociological extrapolation; hitherto, most writing on sf had regarded it as primarily a literature of Technology. As a survey the book was one-sided and by no means thorough, but it was witty, perceptive and quietly revolutionary.” I look forward to reading this influential, if long superseded, analysis of science fiction (I should also read more of his SF).
It also has one of my favorite titles of all time!
4. Six Science Fiction Plays, Roger Elwood (1976)
From the back cover (complete contents): “The City on the Edge of Forever
HARLAN ELLISON’S original script, up to now seen only by a privileged few, with a special introduction by the seven-time Hugo and Nebula Award winner.
TOM REAMY’S taut and suspenseful monster flic that has never before been published.
THEODORE R. COGSWELL and GEORGE RAE COGSWELL offer the first publication of their tightly plotted spaceprobe thriller–an outer space battle with hungry green dust that throbs with malignant life.
Stragner with Roses
JOHN JAKES’ eerie drama of time travel and a scientist who vacations into the future to save his daughter’s life.
The Mechanical Bride
FRITZ LEIBER’s tantalizing teleplay about beautiful mannequins designed for wealthy men grown tired of living women.
Let Me Hear You Whisper
PAUL ZINDEL’s touchingly humorous drama of a talking dolphin–and a cleaning woman who talked back.”
Initial Thoughts: While Elwood’s anthologies are often maligned with saturating the market with often substandard work, I am pleased that he put together a volume on a rather esoteric territory of SF — the play. Of course, I suspect the main draw was Harlan Ellison’s original teleplay (that never aired) for Star Trek’s “The City on the Edge of Forever” (1966). I am most intrigued by Leiber’s “The Mechanical Bride” (1954) which has to be a reference to Marshall McLuhan’s The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man (1951) published a few years earlier.
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